Literally Belittled

In part one, “A Voyage to Lilliput” of Gulliver’s Travels written by Jonathan Swift we read about Gulliver’s capture and his experience with the Lilliputians. I specifically found the scene where he discovers he has been captured by these minuscule people. In the scene he wakes up and is unable to move, and soon after discovers that people not even five inches tall are responsible. However, he never seems to really feel in any type of serious danger, mostly because of his sheer size in comparison to the Lilliput peoples’ size. The entire nature of the scene is ironic, although he is much larger than any of the Lilliput‘ she is not able to free himself because of his hair. He becomes their prisoner and even though he is not really trusted, he is treated quite well and grows to have appreciation for his captors.
While reading this it continuously reminded me of Mary Rowlandson’s captivity narrative. Both the captive and captors eventually built a relationship where they did not completely loathe each other. Swift however satirized this relationship because while Rowlandson verbally belittled the natives, Swift literally made them little. The whites captured always felt superior, metaphorically larger and more capable than the natives and Rowlandson made that obvious in her writing. Gulliver is a very large being compared to the five inch natives and is still captured and kept captive. Swift emphasizes the irony of how white’s always thought they were superior but that did not stop them from being captured nor did it make natives less capable. The air of superiority that they walked around with only worked to prove that natives were much more capable beings than given credit for regardless of how belittled they were. Much like demonstrated in Gulliver’s travels, only with literal size differences.

-Sabrina Vazquez

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